Re: DSM: "The purpose for which [Sudbury] is formed ..."

From: Ardeshir Mehta, N.D. (
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 14:55:27 EST

Hi Scott,

You wrote:

> Was the government of Massachusetts formed "to secure the
> existence of the body politic, [and] to protect it" or "to
> furnish the individuals who compose it with ... their
> natural rights?"
> Do Sudbury model schools exist in order to help people
> develop in an environment of trust and caring, or do they
> exist in order to establish freedom?
> Both of these groups are pluralistic. Both sets of goals
> are held. Neither goal trumps the other, nor is either goal
> compromised for the other when feasible.

Even if you argue that both sets of goals are held, when
one is to *choose* between them, which one is primary?

I don't know about Massachusetts; but if we take America
as a whole, surely the existence of the body politic is less
imporant than the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of

The latter rights are *inalienable*; the existence and protec-
tion of the body politic is not. The body politic is, in fact, just
a *means* to attain the inalienable rights of life and liberty.

> As a citizen of Massachusetts who is interested in
> protecting these natural rights, I generally do not see the
> broad aim of protecting the body politic as inconsistent
> with our natural rights. Rather, when/if I see rights being
> compromised I make a stink about that case of rights being
> compromised -- rather than over the notion that most persons
> and/or groups have more than one aim in life/existance.

People *always* have more than one aim in life. But for all
people there is one aim *more* important than the rest. There
cannot be *two* (or more) aims more important than the rest
-- at least not at any given time -- because of the possibility
of conflict between them. (The word "important" means ex-
actly that: the less important one is sacrificed in favour of
the more important one.)

Consider the story of Abraham and Isaac. No one argues that
children are important to their parents; and to a God-fearing
man, so is God. But which is the *more* important? Normally
one is never called upon to choose between the two. But Abra-
ham *was* so called upon, and when so called upon he made
his choice.

Indeed when Patrick Henry was called upon to choose even bet-
ween life and liberty, he chose the latter!

The moral of the story is, it *can* happen that you will be called
upon to choose between what's *merely* important and what's
*most* important to you.

> This back-and-forth argument over when/if the staff and/or
> body politic in a Sudbury school could/would compromise the
> students' freedom is more than pointless.

No it's not. It touches the heart of the matter: which should go,
freedom or education, when the child chooses one over the other.

And it happens *all the time*: when a child simply wants to
lay down and sit all day, or walk around all day, or do anything
whatsoever which doesn't fit the current definition of *education*.

Does it not also happen with adults? Do not adults also sometimes
want to lay down and do nothing? And maybe even do it all his/her
life? Do we bring in legislation which forbids that? No we don't,
because we consider it the adult's inaleinable right to do nothing at
all, if he or she so chooses.

So with children, is all day of doing nothing fine, but sixteen years
of doing nothing is not?

If so, then education is *not* as important a goal as freedom is;
while if it is *not* fine, then education *is* the more important
goal, while freedom is secondary.

Again, just think what the rights of adults are, and apply them
to children, and you will get exactly what I mean. There are certain
*inalienable* rights, and those are always primary.

> Rather than
> speaking in hypotheticals perhaps one of the persons arguing
> would enlighten us by mentioning ONE instance of this
> happening in a Sudbury school so it can be discussed?

I personally cannot, having no personal experience of Sudbury
schools; but I could give you no end of examples from kids I've
known since I was a teenager, which was almost half a century
ago, who preferred freedom to whatever it was the adults in their
lives defined as "education".

And if you want the prime example, here I am, *myself*, remem-
bering all the things I was forced to do as a child!

No hypotheticals here: indeed, no more concrete a reality can be
expected anywhere.


Ardeshir <>


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